Review of Strategic Risk Register (6-monthly)
The Performance Officer presented the 6-monthly report to review the Strategic Risk Register. Following presentation of the report questions and comments were invited from Committee Members:
· A Committee Member questioned a potential shortfall in funding to replace European Union (EU) funding previously available and asked if sufficient account has been taken of riks arising from the previous levels of funding not being unavailable. It was confirmed that residual risks from de-escalated risks are considered and the Committee was referred to risks 4a and 4b for the management of financial related risks noting that potential shortfalls would be included as appropriate. If the risk is more significant consideration would be given to the risk being included in its own right.
The Deputy Chief Executive and Chief Officer for Resources highlighted the UK Government levelling up funding. Whilst the first two bids made were unsuccessful, further bids will be made. The authority has been very successful with its bids for Community Resilience Funding. These funds are likely to be replaced by the Shared Prosperity Fund; the replacement for EU funding. The bidding process is undecided and is a risk.
· A Committee Member thanked officers for the report and wished to highlight two high level risks. 1) Risk 12 – reduction of Carbon emissions and enquired how much ‘resilience’ is being focussed upon and 2) Risk 5 - the recruitment and retention of staff to maintain services and any improvements to the recruitment process.
Regarding Risk 12, the Performance Manager explained that there are two clear mitigating actions; a) delivering our climate emergency strategy and b) how the authority prepares and adapts to the impact of climate change recognising that the risk level is high with some factors outside our control. An example of mitigation on the impact of climate change is work with the Public Service Board piloting some natural flood risk management techniques and work on climate resilience plans.
In consideration of Risk 5, the Chief Officer People and Governance responded that the intention is to create a recruitment process based on genuine talent acquisition. Different approaches are already being used to attract suitable candidates. He referenced the global skills shortage. He explained there are software applications under consideration, career development/ leadership training and identifying the best ways to work for the benefit of both employees and residents in the County to improve recruitment and retention. The priority is to retain competitive advantage.
· In response to a Member’s question about the authority’s commercial strategy, it was confirmed that £50M was borrowed. The Government disallows use of the funding for renting under the strategy and asked what the implications would be for the Council. The Deputy Chief Executive explained that one of the requirements of the Investments Committee is that it presents an annual report. This will be presented early in the new year. It was confirmed that the Chancellor has tightened the ability for Councils to use PWLB borrowing for commercial activity for yield and return. This has not been the intention of the authority but instead to use the returns generated from commercial investments to maintain frontline services. It may create some hindrance to investment outside the county boundary and advice is being sought accordingly. The Castlegate and Newport Leisure Park are retrospective acquisitions.
As detailed in the recommendations, Members used the risk assessment to consider the effectiveness of the authority’s risk management arrangements and the extent to which the strategic risks facing the authority are appropriately captured.
Members scrutinise, on an on-going basis, the risk assessment and responsibility holders to ensure that risk is being appropriately managed.